Keep Your Strength Up While You're Horizontal
I'm on partial bedrest and have to take it easy. What can I do to keep up my strength, especially in my arms? - Kerri in Palm Beach, Florida
The expert answers
Being on bedrest is so challenging, both mentally and physically. I'm glad you're thinking about ways to keep up your strength. You'll need to make sure with your healthcare provider that doing the following exercises won't jeopardize your health or that of your baby, but here are a few ideas:
You can do isometric exercises for all of your major muscle groups, including your biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, chest, legs, buttocks, and abdominals. An isometric contraction is simply a tightening and releasing of the muscle, exhaling as you tighten and inhaling as you release. You can do the contractions with or without added resistance (for example, hand weights or soup cans or resistance tubing).
For your lower body, you can do some leg raises to the front, side, and back to strengthen all the muscles in the legs and buttocks. If you have ankle weights, you can try using those for added resistance. Make sure you hold your abdominal muscles tight as you raise and lower your legs to avoid injuring your lower back.
For your upper body, you can sit facing the wall and do some wall push-ups. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart. Inhale as you lower your nose and chest toward the wall; exhale as you use your chest muscles to push away from the wall. Try changing your hand position to work different muscles in your arms, chest, and back.